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School of Education - George Mason University

The PhD in Education with a specialization in science education leadership is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential.  Students plan their own programs to meet self-defined goals with the guidance and support of faculty advisors.  Science Education Leadership Specialization courses can be applied to primary or secondary specialization areas.

If you have questions about this specialization, please contact the specialization representative, Andrew Gilbert.

About the Specialization

The Science Education Research Specialization prepares students to conduct research about the learning and teaching of science within different scientific disciplines. Such research involves a deep understanding of the discipline-specific content knowledge as well as the discipline-specific methodologies through which this knowledge is developed.

The Science Education Research Specialization supports the in-depth study of students interested in research in science education. Such a comprehensive and systematic concentration designed around doctoral-level courses supports the science education program's ability to offer more robust and rigorous courses of study at the doctoral level. The major thrust of the science education research specialization is to prepare students for 21st century classrooms, to be collaborative, to produce and enhance critical thinking skills, and to embrace and foster creativity.

What Will You Learn?

The Science Education Research Specialization coursework and applied internships that enable students to learn:

  • Theory and research in learning about science in formal and non-formal settings
  • Foundational knowledge about science teaching and learning at all levels
  • Research methodologies to address a variety of science education topics
  • Specialized knowledge in science education related to your area of interest

Elective courses draw upon and expand your selected research focus. Courses are developed around a wide range of research interests, including:  

  • Achievement Gap
  • Learning Theories for Science Education
  • Critical Pedagogy and Theory
  • Design of Learning Environments
  • Affect and Emotion in Science Education
  • Diversity
  • Motivation and Interest in Science
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Curriculum Studies
  • Science and STEM Education Policy
  • STEM Pipeline Issues

How Will You Learn?

Choosing science education research as your primary or secondary specialization gives you access to program faculty who work closely with you to define your research interests and tailor coursework accordingly. Your advisor guides your doctoral experience by supplementing coursework with professional experiences, including:

  • Attending and/or Presenting at Professional Conferences
  • Graduate Research Assistantships or Internships
  • Independent Study
  • Professional Learning in Online Teaching
  • Teaching and/or Co-Teaching
  • Writing, Editing, and/or Reviewing for Scholarly Journals
  • Building a Professional Portfolio (see College Portfolio Guidelines)

Where Can This Specialization Take You?

A Science Education Research Specialization prepares you for careers in research and teaching at a college or university, leading roles in public policy, or consulting for professional organizations. Program graduates hold professional positions such as:

  • Academic faculty at post-secondary institutions
  • Consultants with private companies, education and research think tanks, and NGOs
  • Curriculum leaders in major K-12 school districts
  • Research analysts at the National Science Foundation
  • Assessment and evaluation specialists at national research institutes
  • Senior researchers at the American Institutes for Research

Specialization Courses

Each student prepares an individual program of study in consultation with their Program Advisory Committee. The following courses can be taken as part of a student’s primary or secondary specialization coursework:

See additional coursework required as part of the PhD in Education degree.

Our Graduates

Whitney Keaton, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Examining the Academic and Extracurricular Experiences and Behaviors of High School Students in Online STEM Courses
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Andrew Gilbert

Linda Peterson, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Capturing Middle School Science Teachers' Perceptions, Learning, and Instructional Enactments in a Professional Development Designed to Facilitate Students' Collaborative Discourse
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Erin Peters-Burton